Land disaster: No jobs, no food in the farming sector

55,000 out of work since January and crops failing due to drought

07 August 2018 - 10:14 By Graeme Hosken
A worker on a dairy farm in Bultfontein, Free State.
A worker on a dairy farm in Bultfontein, Free State.
Image: Alon Skuy

A tanking economy, falling crop prices, drought, land expropriation, failing road infrastructure and high labour costs are killing jobs in SA’s agricultural sector, with 55,000 people put out of work since January.

Those who have lost their jobs include farmers, permanent workers and vulnerable seasonal labourers. Agricultural experts warn that job losses and the shutting down of farms potentially threaten SA’s food security.

The worst affected provinces, according to Stats SA’s latest quarterly labour force survey, are the Western Cape and the Free State where 27,000 and 20,000 people have lost work respectively since January. The Northern Cape and North West each lost 4,000 jobs.

Limpopo saw an additional 27,000 people employed, while Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Gauteng  recorded nominal job increases. Agricultural experts are concerned, however, that many of these jobs are seasonal.

Between 2009 and 2018 the number of Free State dairy farmers dropped from 929 to 183, according to the Milk Producers Organisation.

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